Question of the day: Are you allowed to exist?

I've been working on my new book about creativity, and I've been thinking a lot about the idea of ENTITLEMENT — and how important it is for the creative process.

I recognize that the word “entitlement” has dreadfully negative connotations, but I think there are times when we really need a bit of entitlement, and when it can be put to good use…because you will never be able to create anything interesting out of your life if you don’t believe that you’re entitled to at least try.

Creative entitlement doesn’t mean behaving like a princess, or acting as though the world owes you anything whatsoever. No, creative entitlement simply means believing that you are allowed to be here, and believing that — merely by being here, merely by existing — you are allowed to have a voice and a vision of your own.

The wonderful poet David Whyte has a fantastic name for this sense of creative entitlement. He calls THE ARROGANCE OF BELONGING.

Whyte claims that — without "the arrogance of belonging" — you will never be able take any creative risks whatsoever. Without it, you will never push yourself out of the suffocating insulation of personal safety, and into the frontiers of the beautiful and the unexpected.

The arrogance of belonging is not about egotism or self-absorption. In a strange way, it’s exactly the opposite; it's a force that will actually take you OUT OF YOURSELF and allow you to engage more fully with the world. Because often what keeps you from living your most creative and adventurous and expressive life IS your self-absorption (your self-doubt, your self-disgust, your self-judgment, your crushing sense of self-protection).

The arrogance of belonging pulls you out of the darkest depths of self-hatred — not by saying, “I am the greatest!” but merely by saying, “I exist.”

So…I want to ask you today: How entitled you feel to exist?

How entitled to do you feel to create, to invent, to change, to engage with this world, to move, to grow, to take risks, to have a voice and a vision of your own?

Has there been a particular moment in your life when you stood tall and brave in your own existence at last?

Was there a moment in your life when you finally allowed yourself to embrace the arrogance of belonging?

If you've never claimed your existence — never claimed your belonging — what would it take to do so?

What would you do with your existence, if you ever allowed yourself to fully take ownership of it?

What would you be (and what would you make) if you were allowed to fully exist?

Just wonderin'….

OK, I'll go back to writing now!

Sending love…and ONWARD,

via Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook Wall